After Neftali Feliz looked on while the Rangers bullpen gave the Giants a seven-run eighth inning in Game 2, Ron Washington drew heavy criticism for not going to his closer and best reliever. Feliz, though, has been something of an unknown in the playoffs after a couple shaky early outings, and the Rangers had reason to be less than 100% confident in his ability to get the job done in the spotlight.
After Saturday's Game 3, you can probably consider those concerns alleviated. Ron Washington promised that Feliz would get into the game one way or another, and as it happened, a save situation presented itself. Feliz inherited a 4-2 ninth inning lead and prepared to go to work against the Giants' 5-6-7.
And what a job he did. Feliz threw 13 pitches. 12 of them were fastballs. Those fastballs averaged 97.7 miles per hour, and his final heater of the game - which got Juan Uribe to swing and miss to clinch the win - clocked in at 99. The Giants took eight swings at Feliz's fastball and five of them missed. It's just that good of a pitch, and it just looked that good in Game 3.
It's a big relief to Washington and a Rangers team that hasn't quite known what to make of its bullpen. Feliz came in having walked five guys over 4.1 playoff innings. Then he looked flat-out dominant. If that's a sign of things to come, and if Feliz is all settled in and ready to go, then what'll be interesting to see is if Washington trusts him with a bigger responsibility. Maybe Feliz will draw some consideration in future eighth innings.
Whatever the case, Feliz was dominant, and in so doing answered some pressing questions. Everything went right on Saturday night for the Rangers.